There was the back, and then there was the back-back: this pool table-sized blank space with a jagged carpet. There were no vents and the thing was just glass and hammered Detroit steel, so you had to handle the temperature with the stoicism of a pioneer woman burying her thirteenth child. (Seriously: all these people did was bury children. I’m surprised they had any time to make Indian women bury their’s.)

Ours was green, not blue, but essentially the car above. There was a wood panel model, but my parents weren’t quite flossing at that level yet. It flopped and slopped from side to side, pitching and yawing around the sinuous series of two-lane forest roads that connect North Jersey’s townships and villages; with every sloping curve, the kids in the back-back would roll and slide around. Rashes were developed, loose teeth lost, dicks punched (accidentally, it was always claimed.)

Seatbelts? There weren’t even handholds. Maybe you could get a couple of knuckles under the spare tire hatch, but then you were chancing the thing snapping open and flinging the jack at your forehead. Everything was made of that industrial strength plastic that was deadly hard when intact and deadly sharp when broken. It was an H.H. Holmes-meets-Top Gear vibe.

Check out the back door. It was 19 feet long and as dense as a neutron star whose mother drank a lot. Absolutely no “power assist” from the car getting it open, and nine time out of ten, it would snap close back on you, the slab’s immense radius allowing it to accelerate to Mach 2.

When you got big enough, though–when you were a big boy–you could sit in the actual back seat, which was a bench seat made of vinyl more slippery than a weasel with a law degree in a room full af banana peels. And, since seat-belts were for pussies (or, at the very most, just for the people up front) in those days, you would slide back and forth, banging into the doors every time. These doors, of course, had very little in the way of child-proofing, and were made in America in the 1970’s.

My brother fell out of a moving car on three separate occasions; he was never hurt; he was chastised for it; we made it to the pizzeria.

Everything changes; nothing lasts.